By Desmond Nleya | The current ‘great trek’ to the UK by most health professionals particularly the nurse aids have proved to be a death trap to most Zimbabwean women.
While the grass seems to be greener on the other side, revelations by ZimEye indicated modern slavery and serious manipulation where women are forced into marrying Nigerians and other nationals who use them to acquire documents in the UK.
Painfully, as alleged by some victims, Zimbabweans who own care homes are paid huge sums of money by Nigerians, to lure their relatives back home who will then be forced to be in a relationship with these conmen.
“People who own Care homes here are the ones acting as middlemen. They call their relatives back home and upon arrival, these relatives who are mostly women are given to Nigerians.
“Those Nigerians would have come to the UK using students visas and for them to acquire work visas, they take advantage of properly documented Zimbos who they quickly use to acquire proper documents. After having achieved this, the women would be dumped”, narrated one Zimbabwean known as Noma who is based in Manchester.
Apart from being made sex slaves, it has also been revealed by the Telegraph that some care workers are paid only half of their wages and are forced to live in squalor by unscrupulous middlemen who hold the other half of their wages.
“When you are working for an agency [in the UK], they pay you 50 per cent of your total salary,” said Jim Moyo*, who moved to the UK from Harare in November 2018 to work in a care home in Margate.
“You are getting paid £14 per hour, but then these guys will pay you £7.”He added that, once the tax was deducted, he was left with just £4 per hour for “rent, food and all sorts of expenses”.
“[The agency] tells you: ‘I paid for your accommodation, flights, visa, [I’m] your sponsor’. It’s like a hideous loan,” said Mr Moyo.
While Zimbabwe’s nurses have found work in Britain for years, hiring care workers is a new phenomenon, and experts told the Telegraph that a lucrative ecosystem of manipulation has been built around it.
“Exploitation does not start on arrival [in the UK],” said Hillary Musarurwa, a Zimbabwe-born social scientist in England.
“It starts during the application process [in Zimbabwe].
However regulation of these agencies is weak, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) suggested that – although it is unacceptable that some overseas-based agencies are charging fees to place candidates with jobs in Britain – their hands are tied because the actors are not under UK jurisdiction.